Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 4, 2011

Authors Night at Greenfield Middle School

 Authors Night at Greenfield Middle School was a great success, with about seventy students and many parents showing up to hear three local authors. Here I am with Ashley Maywinn Fitzroy, a former student of mine, who gave me a lovely introduction.

It was a joy to meet some of Ashley’s seventh grade students, and hear about a few novels-in-progress, even if when one asked for the name of my publisher I hedged. There’s time, people! Here’s Ashley and me with librarian Gary Rucker in the background. He spent part of the day stopping in classrooms to encourage students to come. “He even did a dance,” Ashley said.

“That was just for your class,” he replied.

Rob Buyea talked about the importance of a powerful beginning. He said that after hearing novelist Richard Peck say that writers could earn or lose a chance for readers on the first page, he changed the order of the seven narrators in his acclaimed first novel. BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT, a finalist for an E.B. White read aloud award, now begins with the voice of the class troublemaker.

Amy Gordon spoke about growing up in a talkative family who loved words and drama, and how she found a way to get her voice on paper. She mentioned some of the roots of her many novels in personal history.


I talked about ways to find details to make your writing come alive, before we broke for refreshments, book signings, and personal talks. I was happy to meet both the principal and vice principal of the school, busy people who you don’t often see on Author Nights. And the vice principal mentioned his pleasure not just in our short talks, but in noting the students who came out to listen. “They’re not always the great students, the ones you’d guess. And that’s what I love about this job. The kids always surprise you.”



  1. Ever since I met Ashley she had a passion for teaching writing, and it’s wonderful to see her taking on what I know isn’t an easy job. And while I have almost nothing to do with her success, except to say those occasional yay, yous, I felt quite proud to hear parents confide how much she inspires their children.
    It was wonderful. And when I was leaving, the great PTO moms filled some of the top hat I carry for Mary Anning with chocolate chip cookies.

  2. That cracks me up a seventh-grader asked for your publisher’s name.

  3. She was very serious. It’s good to have dreams, but you want to have the work in your blood before you start collecting the no-thank-you notes, or the silence-that-means-rejection current these days, that come between the work and publication.

  4. Indeed. If I’d started sending out stuff in seventh grade, there’s no way I’d still be working toward publication.

  5. I love the comment from the vice principal. So glad you were able to reach those students–and that you had fun, too!

  6. What a nice person. I just heard he’s not technically vice principal but “floor leader,” but expect he thoughtfully introduced himself as such because I’d have no idea what that was. I’m still kind of sticking to people as librarians as opposed to media specialists.
    Anyway, it was a fun night!

  7. Thanks for commenting, Karen. You have to love it when people are dragging in more chairs!

  8. “Because of Mr. Terupt” has become a classroom favorite – what a wonderful evening you had!

  9. I’m hoping that at some point Jeannine will agree to put up the video I shot of her entire talk — it’s pretty neat! — PL

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